The choice came to a move or a cancellation. Faced with relocating the townâ??s popular annual Fourth of July fireworks or cancelling it due to public safety concerns raised by the townâ??s fireworks vendor Zambelli Internationale, the town decided to move the annual fireworks display. This year they will move from Yowell Meadow Park to Col. Jameson Boulevard.
Zambelli told the town earlier this year that it was not renewing the contract to provide this yearâ??s fireworks because last year burning cinders fell on rooftops and in yards of houses along nearby Macoy Avenue.
At a Public Safety, Public Works and Community Development Committee meeting in March, the town staff said it would attempt to rebid the contract with other vendors to keep the fireworks downtown. The staff also offered an alternative site in the county at Eastern View High School. That idea didnâ??t gain much traction as concerns about traffic along U.S. Route 29 stopping to watch the fireworks, possibly causing accidents.
The committee considered a third option, which would keep the fireworks in town close to Yowell Meadow Park. The location was near Fairview Cemetery, which will be closed to the public beginning at 7 p.m.
â??We had to move the location of the fireworks for safety reasons,â? Town Manager Chris Hively told the same committee at its monthly meeting Tuesday.
The Culpeper Festival Committee decided to move the fireworks display, which will begin about 9:15 p.m., near the cemetery.
Town officials note that the cemetery will be closed several hours before the fireworks display and that Zambelli will shoot off fireworks on a town-owned site southeast of, but adjacent to the cemetery, along Col. Jameson Boulevard.
The curve at Col. Jameson Boulevard, which is closest to the site where the fireworks will be set off, will also be closed to pedestrians, according to a map provided by the town.
Col. Jameson Boulevard will be closed to traffic, allowing for public viewing from the roadway. Also closed will be Blue Ridge Avenue from West Cameron Street to Sperryville Pike, along with North West Street and Old Rixeyville from West Evans Street to Rixeyville Road roundabout.
The town will establish a pedestrian route from Yowell Meadow Park to Col. Jameson Boulevard. Continuous trolley service will ferry people to and from the East Spencer Street and West Locust Street parking lots to the Rixeyville Road roundabout.
Citizens may still bring chairs and blankets to watch the pyrotechnics.
Portable bathrooms will be set up along Col. Jameson Boulevard. A medical station near the Virginia Avenue roundabout along Sperryville Pike will be established should a medical emergency arise.
Councilman Pranas Rimeikis asked how far sidewalks extended down Sperryville Pike from Virginia Avenue, noting that there will be significant pedestrian traffic both before and after the fireworks.
â??Pedestrians everywhere,â? he said. Rimeikis was told the sidewalks extend on both sides of the entire section of Sperryville Pike from Virginia Avenue into town.
Councilman David Lochridge, who attended the committee but isnâ??t a member, wondered about those people from out of town and how they would be notified about the change in the fireworks location.
Planning and Community Development Director Charles Rapp said flyers will be posted and he hoped that newspapers and radio stations would help publicize the change.
â??Itâ??s going to be a change,â? said Hively. â??We are trying to make it as good as we can.â?
Editorâ??s Note: A map showing new viewing areas can be found at http://www.boarddocs.com/va/tocva/Board.nsf/files/9XK69V6CD5CB/$file/Fireworks%20Information%20Map.pdf.
Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at email@example.com